It’s no secret that I love my Dad.  He is irreverent, funny, smart, kind and has a very big heart.  We are very similar 😉  (Not to mention humble…)

My Dad is also crazy fun and…ghetto – he rigs up all sorts of contraptions.  Here is the story of one of my fondest and most painful memories of my father. Yes, they are the same memory.

When I was a kid, we went down to the Florida panhandle for vacation in the summer.  We did all sorts of fun stuff while we were down there but a perennial favorite was to parasail.  If you haven’t parasailed, you haven’t lived.  And by lived, I mean stared death directly in the face.  Let me break it down for you.  A half-drunk 19 year old tan kid straps you into a frayed harness using rusty carabiners all of which is attached to what amounts to a parachute.  If you are especially lucky, you get to have this near death experience riding tandem with your friend or sister.

Then, the drunk kid tells his partner, his totally drunk toothless father, to ‘gun it!’ and the rope lets out, goes taught and suddenly you are flying!  We loved this so much that one time we said “Hey Dad – can we get a parasail?”.  Like all awesome father’s he said ‘okay’.  That is where my story begins.

My father finds a parasail for sale in Florida, somehow obtains it, gets it to Alabama and we begin experimenting with parasailing on the Tennessee River behind our ski boat.  From my perspective, we were THE dumbest coolest people on the entire river (something everyone should strive for BTW). There were several failed attempts in which my Dad obtained numerous minor injuries but we eventually mastered it and we became the funnest family in the SEC.

A year or so had passed since we first got the parasail and my father, always looking for a challenge, decided that he wanted to try to parasail without water. He needed a windy day, a rope and a truck. His day finally arrived – Valentine’s Day 1989ish.  My Mom was out running errands or something and Dad calls my sister and I into the backyard.  There I see, his 1976ish gray Chevy S-10 truck with a ski rope tied to it.  On the other end of the ski rope was the parasail.  Holding his adult sized motorcycle helmet, he looks at us and says “who’s first?”.  My sister and I argue over who will occupy this death trap first and I ‘won’. I strap myself into the frayed harness, My Dad plops the helmet on my head without strapping it (it was too big anyway) and the parasail fills with air.  I begin to levitate and then I am up in the air tethered to the truck.

I was going higher and higher and everything was fine for about 2 minutes until the wind really started picking up and the rope went tight and…snapped.  Turns out that ski rope was rotted and I was now loose flying through the neighborhood.  It was pretty fun actually! I got a birds eye view of the neighborhood and neighboring farm, I got to see my Dad freak out figuring out he would explain this to Mom plus I was FLYING!  Then I realized, I wasn’t really sure how I was supposed to get down. I started picking up speed and when I looked down, I saw my father running below trying to figure out where I would land and my sister right next to him still bitching because she wanted to go first.  Guess I SHOWED her?!

I finally hit a spot in the sky where the wind died down and the sail part of the parasail got low enough to get caught in a tree and I was stopped. My Dad runs to the base of the tree and coaches me through the best way to release myself from the harness.  I succeed and fall to the ground hitting only a few branches along the way.  My sister had begrudgingly gone to get the neighbor lady to help and she walked me back to her house where she gave me a bath because I was covered in dirt, leaves and twigs.

I am still not sure how my Dad explained this incident to my Mom but it made for one hell of a childhoold memory!

I love you, Dad! Happy Father’s Day!



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